U.N. High Commissioner for Human Rights Michele Bachelet warns growing repression in Nicaragua is shutting down fundamental freedoms in the country and is creating a political, social and human rights crisis. Bachelet submitted her latest report on the situation in Nicaragua to the U.N. Human Rights Council Monday.
Bachelet gave a blistering account of a Nicaraguan society she says has no respect for human rights nor for the rule of law. In the report submitted Monday, she expressed concern by the continued failure to ensure accountability for human rights violations committed since April 2018.
She urged the government to repeal a series of legislation passed since then, which unduly restricted the civic and democratic space in which people can operate. For example, the country’s Special Law on Cybercrimes punishes alleged crimes committed in the use of information and communication technologies.
The report documents many actions by Nicaraguan President Daniel Ortega’s government aimed at controlling and prosecuting dissidents and political opponents. Bachelet noted at least 43 people arrested in the context of last November’s presidential elections remain detained. She said they are held in inhumane conditions, and stripped of their legal rights. She spoke through an interpreter.
“Contact with their lawyers has been unduly restricted, which has prevented them from preparing their defense. They have also been deprived of any contact or communication with their children who are minors. Likewise, I observe with deep concern the recent resumption of the trials against some of these men and women in the past month at the harsh prison sentences applied to at least 34 persons without respecting due process,” she expressed.
Bachelet said human rights defenders, journalists, and lawyers continue to be harassed, intimidated, and arbitrarily detained. She said Nicaragua’s indigenous people continue to suffer violent attacks over land disputes, most of them in complete impunity.
“The fear that exists of repressive actions by the authorities as a response to the exercise of fundamental freedoms is deeply harmful for the human rights of the Nicaraguan people. Nicaraguans continue to seek decent lives and safe lives outside their country,” she said.
She noted that 144,000 Nicaraguans left their country last year, the highest number since 2018.
Nicaragua’s Attorney General Wendy Carolina Morales Urbina assailed the veracity of the report. She called the sources questionable. She said the report contained false information aimed at disparaging and undermining the authority, sovereignty and independence of her country.